Recruiters: You're Worth the Money
By Bill Radin
As a recruiter, I
cant tell you the number of times Ive heard the expression, fifty
percent of something is better than one hundred percent of nothing. To which I reply: Hogwash! Fifty percent is better only in a collection or bad debt
crisis, when someone is cheating you out of what he owes you, and you feel lucky to recoup
any part of your loss.
But caving in on a regular basis and accepting less than
what your service is worth is not only costly in financial terms; it subconsciously
telegraphs to your customer that youre not a believer in what you do for
a living. Eventually, this kind of noncommittal attitude will harm your credibility, and
weaken your earning potential.
Some years ago, I had a fifty percent of
something experience which proved to be very painful in the short term, but
beneficial in the long. I cold-called the vice president of a company and proceeded
to market an extremely talented MPA (most placeable applicant).
Bill, your candidate sounds like the sort of person
we need, explained the vice president. In fact, were currently
conducting a search. But were using a retained search firm on
So youre pleased with the results youre
getting, I replied.
Well, not exactly. Youre probably aware of how
difficult it is to find someone like this.
Indeed I am, Mr. Employer, and thats why I
called you. What should we do?
Tell you what, said the vice president.
Why dont you talk to Leo, the other recruiter? Tell him the situation; that
you have an ideal candidate I want to interview. Maybe the two of you can split the fee.
See what he says, and call me back.”
What could be the harm? I figured. Sure enough, Leo was receptive to the idea. It turns out he
wasnt getting anywhere on this assignment.
How about it, Bill? You and I will split the fee
fifty-fifty, suggested Leo. That way, well both look good. And besides,
fifty percent of something is better than one hundred percent of nothing, right?
“Im not sure, I hesitated.
Let me think about it and Ill call you back.
Now I was really confused! I went to my manager for advice.
Im sorry, Bill, he said, shaking his
head, but I cant approve a split deal like this.
But it would mean walking away from a lot of
money, I groaned. And besides, theres no guarantee I can place my
candidate anywhere else.
Thats just the risk youll have to
take, my manager replied. You see, the issue here isnt the money. The
issue is the value of your service.
How do you mean?
Well, you took the initiative to call the employer
and present your candidate, right?
And hed like to interview your candidate
because hes perfect for the job.
True, I said.
Now, lets suppose you were to arrange the
interview, and as a result, the company decided to hire your candidate. Havent you
done everything we teach you to do, and done it well?
Sure, I answered proudly.
So arent you entitled to 100 percent of the
fee, and not a penny less?
I guess so.
Now ask yourself this: What did Leo, the other
recruiter, do to earn half your money?
As I walked back to my desk, I thought about what my
manager just told me. Hes right! Why should I give Leo half my fee, just
because he happened to write a job order?
A few minutes later, I called the vice president.
Mr. Employer, I said. I
spoke with Leo,
as you suggested, and he offered to split the fee with me. But Ive got some disappointing news for you. I
thought it over, and I cant in good conscience give Leo half my fee. I just
dont feel its fair.
I dont blame you, said the vice
president. Leo shouldnt be rewarded for his failure to find me the right
person. Unfortunately, I have to stick with Leo, because we signed an exclusive agreement,
but I appreciate your calling me. Lets keep in touch.
Fine. Ill call you in a few months
Would you like to know how this story ended? Leo finally
placed a marginal candidate with the vice presidents company. I stayed in touch with
the company, and even made a courtesy call to meet the vice president.
Two years later, the candidate Leo placed was fired, and I
was asked by the company to fill the vacant position, which I did, for a full fee. The lesson I learned? You never need to settle for less
than youre worth.
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